Authorities promise better security at Taunggyi balloon festival

Police in the Shan State capital of Taunggyi have assured the public that security measures will be tighter than usual during the Oct. 26-Nov. 4 Tazaungdaing balloon festival.

The annual festival is known for its displays of unmanned hot air balloons loaded with fireworks that explode mid-air above thousands of spectators. Four people were killed at the festival in 2014 by balloons that were blown out of the air by strong winds.

CCTV systems and nearly 800 security personnel will monitor the city’s Wai Yar Kone Thayar field, where the festival is held, to prevent crime and accidents.

“There are 766 officers and privates who will be on duty,” Taunggyi district Police Col. Ye Myint told Eleven. “The security plan is separated into seven phases. It will come into effect from Oct. 16 with the area divided into 37 zones, and 50 CCTV cameras will be installed across those zones. Routine checks will also be conducted in nearby places.”

“Security for the festival has been reinforced not only with additional police officers and soldiers but with technology as well,” he said.

The Shan State government is also expected to form a committee of high-ranking officials to oversee security at the festival. The committee will be led by the Shan State border affairs minister, Col. Naing Win Aung.

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